Issa’s Shady Past

Ryan Lizza has a must-read profile of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the House Oversight Committee chairman who called the Obama administration the most corrupt in history.

Issa has, “among other things, been indicted for stealing a car, arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, and accused by former associates of burning down a building.”

Explained Issa: “Everyone has a past.”

In fact, Issa “seems chastened by all the legal and journalistic investigations of his own complicated past. If one believes his version of events, he has been unfairly accused of several crimes, and has long had to live under a cloud of suspicion. It seems possible that Obama won’t be tormented by his chief prosecutor in the House. Perhaps Issa’s experience will lead to investigations that are careful and serious, and avoid the warfare that has characterized the Oversight Committee in recent decades.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“We could have used a few more brothers in the house, there’s no doubt about that.”

— Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, in an interview on Hardball, noting he rarely saw groups of blacks congregating at Republican conventions.

The Inner Circle

In the mail: The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer.

NPR: “The latest thriller novel from Brad Meltzer supposes that the president of the United States has a private ring of spies. The Inner Circle imagines that the spy ring is passed on from one president to the next. Meltzer says his fictional plot grew out of a real life experience.”

Perry Polls Outside Texas

Despite saying he’s not interested in a presidential bid, political operatives in Austin tell Robert Bryce that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) campaign team “has been quietly polling voters outside of the Lone Star State to gauge his chances on the national stage.”

Update: A Perry adviser is denying the report.


Menendez Has Solid Lead Over Possible Rivals

A new Fairleigh Dickinson PublicMind poll in New Jersey finds Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) “comfortably ahead” of Republicans who may challenge him for re-election in 2012.

Menendez leads state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R), 44% to 34%, tops state Sen. Michael Doherty (R), 40% to 30% and beats Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R), 47% to 26%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“This debate about how we’re going to restructure spending is inevitable. My view is, let’s have it now. Let’s call their bluff.”

— Tim Pawlenty, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, on the upcoming vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Toning it Down

CNN: “As evidence of a slight rhetorical shift, House Speaker John Boehner abandoned labeling the current health care law as ‘job killing,’ and instead called it ‘job crushing’ and ‘job destroying’ in a new message posted on his webpage.”

What Did John Edwards Know?

The federal criminal investigation targeting John Edwards “is examining how much the two-time presidential candidate knew about money used to cover up his extramarital affair and out-of-wedlock child and whether he had other practices that pushed the bounds of campaign finance laws,” the AP reports.

“The case largely stems from money spent to keep Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, in hiding along with former campaign aide Andrew Young, who initially claimed paternity so Edwards could continue pursuing the White House without the taint of the affair.”

“Investigators are looking chiefly at whether funds paid to Hunter and Young — from outside political groups and Edwards’ political donors — should have been considered campaign donations since they arguably aided his presidential bid, according to several people involved in the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing probe. And they’re also looking closely at whether any entities linked to Edwards operated illegally.”

Schwarzenegger Weighing Movie Offers

Arnold Schwarzenegger “has identified three screenplays that may form the basis of his return to the movie industry after serving seven years as governor of California,”The Guardian reports.

Said Schwarzenegger: “I’m reading three scripts. One topic/script, which I considered a long time ago before governor, is delighting me particularly. I would play an older [German] soldier, who gets the order at the end of the war to kill a bunch of kids. But he doesn’t do it and gets them to safety at the risk of his life. It has all kinds of adventure. The script is based on a true story.”

Schwarzenegger also said that serving as governor cost him $200 million in lost earnings from the movie business.

Cuomo Honeymoon in Full Swing

A new Siena Poll finds New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s favorability rating rose to a sky-high 70%.

Said pollster Steven Greenberg: “For the first time in more than a year, 70% of voters have a favorable view of Cuomo, while only 17% view him unfavorably, the lowest since August 2009. He is viewed favorably by 78% of Democrats and 60% of Republicans; 73% of downstaters and 65% of upstaters; and even 53% of conservatives.”

Will GOP Nominate a Dark Horse Candidate?

Pollster Scott Rasmussen said he thinks a dark horse candidate will win the GOP nomination to challenge President Obama in 2012, the Monroe News-Star reports.

Said Rasmussen: “I have no idea who the Republicans will nominate next year… it’s not one of the big names.”

Instead, Rasmussen said “it will be someone who hasn’t previously been involved in a national campaign but has some national recognition.”

The New Orleans Times-Picayune notes Rasmussen looked toward Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), then added with a nod toward the governor: “I don’t know if anybody here is thinking about it.”

Jindal vigorously shook his head “No.”

Will DeLay Ever Go to Jail?

Salon asked Lou Dubose, co-author of The Hammer, whether former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) would ever actually spend a day in jail after being sentenced to three years for laundering corporate campaign contributions.

Said DuBose: “No. Simply because the Court of Criminal Appeals is an elected court, it’s all Republican, it’s highly political. It’s known as a prosecutors’ court, but in this case I would bet that they’re going to rule for the defendant. The Third Court of Appeals, where the appeal will start, is also a Republican court.”

LePage Tells NAACP to “Kiss My Butt”

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) drew fire from the NAACP after declining invitations to attend NAACP annual Martin Luther King events, the Lewiston Sun Journal reports.

When asked by a reporter to respond, LePage said: “Tell them to kiss my butt.”

The governor later said “he’d be willing to meet with the NAACP to discuss issues regarding all Maine’s people.”

Meanwhile, WCSH-TV reports LePage changed his mind and made an “unscheduled appearance” at a Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast this morning.

Barbour Will Not Announce Plans Until April

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) said he will not make a decision about running for the presidency until the spring, WAPT-TV reports.

Said Barbour: “As far as running for president, I’ve said I’m not going to make any decision about that until the spring. I’ve got a budget to do and a legislative session (to attend). I’m going to get through my day job before I think about looking for the next job.”

Caroline Kennedy Had Miniseries Dropped

Caroline Kennedy “blackmailed” the History Channel to drop its new eight hour miniseries, The Kennedys, which was to air in March, according to the New York Post.

“Kennedy had leveled an ultimatum to the companies — dump the reportedly warts- and-all miniseries or lose her cooperation in the planned fall release of never-before-heard conversations with her mother. Unless The Kennedys was killed, she’d cancel the release of the audiotapes on ABC and refuse to publicize the book of transcripts of the tapes to be released by Hyperion. ABC, A&E and Hyperion are all owned by Disney.”



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